Posts Tagged ‘theology’

“Worship, it is true, represents love towards God; it represents the existential action of men which is directed towards the unsearchable majesty of God. But worship can represent existential love only in so far as it is significantly engaged in the corresponding love of men which is the parable of love towards God. Love of men is in itself trivial and temporal: as the parable of the Wholly Other, it is, however, of supreme significance; for it is both the emissary of the Other and the occasion by which it is apprehended.” p. 452 The Epistle to the Romans

It has been a while since I quoted Barth. Well here he is again, talking about what worship represents and how it and the love of God are tied to the love of men. The love of men, though, by itself is not significant in any ultimately meaningful way without the understanding of what it represents in eternity and how it helps us to understand our relation to God as one of a love-relationship.


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I found a nice site that has the rest of the commandments on it from Luther’s Large Catechism: http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/catechism/web/cat-07.html#c5

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Thus far we have learned the first three commandments, which relate to God. First that with our whole heart we trust in Him, and fear and love Him throughout all our life. Secondly, that we do not misuse His holy name in the support of falsehood or any bad work, but employ it to the praise of God and the profit and salvation of our neighbor and ourselves. Thirdly, that on holidays and when at rest we diligently treat and urge God’s Word, so that all our actions and our entire life be ordered according to it. Now follow the other seven, which relate to our neighbor among which the first and greatest is:

Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother.

To this estate of fatherhood and motherhood God has given the special distinction above all estates that are beneath it that He not simply commands us to love our parents, but to honor them. For with respect to brothers, sisters, and our neighbors in general He commands nothing higher than that we love them, so that He separates and distinguishes father and mother above all other persons upon earth, and places them at His side. For it is a far higher thing to honor than to love one, inasmuch as it comprehends not only love, but also modesty, humility, and deference as to a majesty there hidden, and requires not only that they be addressed kindly and with reverence, but, most of all that both in heart and with the body we so act as to show that we esteem them very highly, and that, next to God, we regard them as the very highest. For one whom we are to honor from the heart we must truly regard as high and great.

We must, therefore impress it upon the young that they should regard their parents as in God’s stead, and remember that however lowly, poor, frail, and queer they may be, nevertheless they are father and mother given them by God. They are not to be deprived of their honor because of their conduct or their failings. Therefore we are not to regard their persons, how they may be, but the will of God who has thus created and ordained. In other respects we are, indeed, all alike in the eyes of God; but among us there must necessarily be such inequality and ordered difference, and therefore God commands it to be observed, that you obey me as your father, and that I have the supremacy.

Learn, therefore, first, what is the honor towards parents required by this commandment to wit, that they be held in distinction and esteem above all things, as the most precious treasure on earth. Furthermore, that also in our words we observe modesty toward them, do not accost them roughly, haughtily, and defiantly, but yield to them and be silent even though they go too far. Thirdly, that we show them such honor also by works, that is, with our body and possessions, that we serve them, help them, and provide for them when they are old, sick, infirm, or poor, and all that not only gladly, but with humility and reverence, as doing it before God. For he who knows how to regard them in his heart will not allow them to suffer want or hunger, but will place them above him and at his side, and will share with them whatever he has and possesses.

Secondly, notice how great, good, and holy a work is here assigned children, which is alas! utterly neglected and disregarded, and no one perceives that God has commanded it or that it is a holy, divine Word and doctrine. -Luther’s Large Catechism

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Therefore this is the simple meaning of the commandment: since holidays are observed anyhow, such observance should be devoted to hearing God’s Word, so that the special function of this day should be the ministry of the Word for the young and the mass of poor people, yet that the resting be not so strictly interpreted as to forbid any other incidental work that cannot be avoided.

Accordingly, when asked, What is meant by the commandment: Thou shalt sanctify the holy day? answer: To sanctify the holy day is the same as to keep it holy. But what is meant by keeping it holy? Nothing else than to be occupied in holy words, works, and life. For the day needs no sanctification for itself; for in itself it has been created holy [from the beginning of the creation it was sanctified by its Creator]. But God desires it to be holy to you. Therefore it becomes holy or unholy on your account, according as you are occupied on the same with things that are holy or unholy. -Luther’s Large Catechism

In context, Luther explained how this commandment was given to the Jews, and them alone. It need not concern a Christian, as we have been set free by Christ. But he meant this in terms of the legalistic interpretation that the Jews, over time, developed. He thinks that a day of rest is useful for by nature our bodies and spirits get tired through a week’s worth of work, so it is good for those who labor to rest and become refreshed once a week. Then he stressed that this day, for a Christian, is not only useful to refresh the body in order to labor again for another week, but also to refresh and renew the soul, by spending some hours with God’s holy word, and enjoying fellowship (he also made it a point that one should read the word daily). He basically says that since people are so busy most of the time, this day of rest is the only time “the masses” can get together for church services regularly. He notes that the day itself does not matter, but what you do on that day. For instance Sunday is meaningless in itself, but it becomes the sabbath when you rest and spend time with God’s word and people.

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The point of this commandment, therefore, is to require that kind of true faith and confidence of the heart that is directed toward the one true God and clings to Him alone. The meaning is: ‘See to it that you let Me alone be your God, and never look about for another.’ In other words: ‘Look to Me for any good thing that you lack; come to Me for it. And whenever you suffer misfortune and distress, reach out to Me and hold on to Me. I, and I alone, will satisfy your need and help you in every trouble. Only do not ever let your heart cling to or depend on anything or anybody else.’ -Luther’s Large Catechism

This is part two of my post on the first commandment. Luther goes on for a few more pages. I think this is sufficient for my purposes here, and if you ever pick up a copy of the catechism or find one online, it’s worth the read.

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A Naturalist might ask a theist, or Christian to be specific, for proof of the existence of God. One might point to the bible, and then the naturalist will say that is rubbish, it is full of magic tricks called ‘miracles’. These are impossible, he/she might say, because of Hume’s argument against them: it is far more likely that a witness to such an event is either lying or mistaken, than the laws of the universe have been altered.

But imagine this: You ask for proof of divinity and Jesus rises from the dead and says that death no longer has a hold on humanity if you believe in Him. So you say that is rubbish, because clearly people don’t rise from the dead. Let’s say we go a step further and a miracle of one kind or another happens and you see the reports of it on the news. You then say that that too is rubbish and the whole lot of people must have been drunk, high, or stupid to believe anything they are reporting to have seen (or even better, it was some magician trying to make a name for himself by making a building disappear in NYC…damn those magicians…good special effects these days…). Then, let us say that a miracle happens right before your eyes. What do you say then? “O well, I must have had something bad to eat last night, I’m hallucinating, tired, delirious, insane, dreaming, mistaken, etc etc. You will never, ever, come to the proper conclusion, the truth of the matter, because you exclude miracles from the start. Even if one actually occurred right before your eyes, God proving His divinity and power over natural laws (not that a miracle must be that way), you would still not recognize it for what it is.

In conclusion, when a naturalist claims that they just can’t believe what was written thousands of years ago about miracles, and they sure would like to see some in the present day, preferably right before their very eyes, this very instant so that they may believe, they are mistaken or lying, because they still would not believe.

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“Only that which participates in Christ can endure and overcome. Christ is the center and power of the Bible, of the Church, of theology, but also of humanity, reason, justice, and culture. To Christ everything must return; only under Christ’s protection can it live.” p. 341 Ethics, Bonhoeffer

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